Musical Fr33dom originated as a close group of friends who appreciate the same type of music. Now a musical movement with two DJs bringing electronic dance music to people who want to enjoy dance music and a club scene, the group hosts glow parties making for anything but a typical weekend in West Chester or Philadelphia.
Kiel Sterling, founding member of the Musical Fr33dom, has the role of “bringing people together,” planning events, filming videos of the shows, providing glow sticks and promoting the group. When asked to host a musical show at Mas Mexicali Cantina of West Chester, upon agreeing, Sterling thought, “This could turn into something (permanent) down the road.”
The group will host their next “lights-out” glow party at the Note, located at 142 East Market St., on Nov. 18. Along with a glow paint station, Kirk James Dupis, of the Kirkworx Productions, will have an airbrush station.
The original intention of Musical Fr33dom began as a way to bring electronic dance music mainly to college areas, introducing young adults to the music. The nightclub type of music incorporates subgenres including dub-step, breakbeat, chiptune, disco, techno and trance. They believe West Chester’s bars and restaurants require DJs to play popular top songs during play-list sets. The name of their group unintentionally serves a double meaning as their DJs have the freedom to play songs that will inspire those listening. Their lax views benefit the crowd to hear a better show and commits the crowd to staying and wanting to hear more.
The group developed when the opportunity presented itself with the chance to perform for people who want to enjoy electronic dance music. Members of Musical Fr33dom never intended to be a promotional event. Music Fr33dom “came about because it brought people happiness.” A performance of theirs obtains high crowd reactions, glow paint scattered across the room and non-stop dancing.
A rare feature about Musical Fr33dom is that while they target college age students at local bars, they are all about the dance party. For them, they say it’s all about the sound of the music, and they keep to that focus by engaging the patrons with old and new music intertwined.
On Sept. 10 inside Mas, patrons got the “club experience” with a combination of glow sticks and glow paint offered by Musical Fr33dom, Sterling said, which came out of their own pocket. Patrons could throw paint at each other. Sterling described it as a “crazy adventure, getting lost in music and glow lights.”
Musical Freedom glow parties keep patrons on their feet the whole night, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. The DJ dancing on stage behind his equipment is also found in a white shirt covered by glow paint. By attending their shows at local bars and restaurants, patrons experience a social mix of a club night and high school senior prom.
“If you still feel like you’re in West Chester by the end of the night, then we haven’t done our jobs,” Sterling said in regard to entertaining patrons. “What we do is out of this world.”
Sterling made confetti the night before their second show at Mas to drop on the patrons on the dance floor below. Anticipating timing, Sterling let the confetti drop from the second floor, grasping cheers in response.
“I think West Chester never saw confetti get dropped like that,” Sterling said.
With a rough maximum capacity of 400 people, Mas developed a line out the door and around the corner by 1 a.m. Sterling took a video capturing the long line of people waiting to enter to view their show, as he deemed this unheard of in West Chester. This show followed their successful summer night on July 2, 2011, despite college students having off for the summer during their “drop-out” show.
“There’s a new wave of clubbers that are out there, bringing a new energy (to the dance floor) – that’s the college kids,” Sterling said. “We really embrace them coming out to the shows and tuning in.”
Sterling said their Facebook fan page serves as a Musical Fr33dom Pandora. A form of marketing, by posting links and songs, he can “plug away the show” utilizing a social network. He prefers to videotape the shows, which “captures the moment,” allowing fans to “relive the moment” when watching the videos on Facebook and Youtube. Simply watching the videos can place one in a nightclub scene. Dancers will want to move to the beat and music lovers will appreciate the play-list.
“Love and happiness are the things you can’t put a price tag on,” Sterling said pertaining to the Facebook fan group expanding to over 300 followers. “That’s why we do what we do.”
Sterling admits the effects are minimal, but effective for the crowd, with the use of glow sticks and paint, and lighting machines. With a self-pocket budget, the group does their best to provide cost-effective materials to entertain the crowd as the music sways them.
“I wanted to take this to the next level and do something West Chester has never seen,” Sterling said. “That’s what it’s been so far (for us.)”
Their main goal is providing an environment that has people listening to a top DJ. And that’s exactly what they do. With a combination of dance music and bodies on the dance floor, it only “multiplies the energy” setting. Sterling explained by seeing 20 people “owning” the dance floor, they will want to be a part of that.
Dan Fisher, a DJ for Musical Fr33dom, goes by the name of Love Cities DJ. A full time DJ for almost two years now, he first learned how to DJ using records on two turn-tables. Staying somewhat old school, he continues using the turn-table, along with records and his whole collection of music on his laptop.
Fisher plays the songs he wants, which permits him to keep the high mood of the audience. He doesn’t bash listeners over the head by playing a top 40 playlist. He feeds off his listener’s reactions to the songs being heard over the loud speakers. He works with his own equipment, setting the mood as if on autopilot, when he carefully plans out his remaining set. He picks out the next song while the current song plays.
“This is our outlet to letting loose and having fun,” Sterling said. He encourages people to dance at the glow party.
For Sterling, music “keeps me motivated to do good in life, to keep going down that road.” Patrons find themselves exposed to new music they haven’t heard, exposing them to new genres and artists that could soon occupy their ITunes after downloading.
Musical Fr33dom reveals new songs to listeners, taking them on a “new ride” that’s worth taking when Fisher drives and controls the radio, so to speak. Copies of records are furnished to Fisher before they are publicly released in stores, which is one of the perks of being a DJ. Using this as an advantage, he exposes listeners to the latest music and remixes in older songs as he finds appropriate.
As a DJ, Fisher understands how selecting the next song entails staying one step ahead of his listeners. He plays a song before the title
comes across the minds of listeners. He developed a skill, learning to read the minds of listeners for the next song to spin. No need to make a song request, just enjoy their show. Think of him as a DJ that cannot be replaced with an IPod.
Fisher’s success reflects his passion as a DJ and love of the music. To a viewer, Fisher is found spinning on his turn tables. Behind the table, he’s more than a DJ; he wants to be a part of the happiness spreading amongst the guests.
“I love to accompany people on that journey,” Fisher said. He picks up local gigs and works weddings in addition to Musical Fr33dom.
He can adapt to any genre found popular. Despite being a hip-hop DJ at heart, he can play for his audience by allowing them to hear what they prefer to listen to. Typically he’ll keep in mind about 100 songs he could play in the night. He accommodates his listeners, not sticking to a playlist created prior to the event.
KRS-ONE and hip-hop personally influenced Fisher in his love for music. He started spinning as a DJ in the late 1990s after hearing a DJ mixing and scratching records manually.
His computer holds various genres, including hip hop, oldies, funk, step, house, Aladdin and more. He can tackle the challenge of playing based on the range of his audience. Fisher gets on his mic during the night, attempting to express a love for music and have patrons understand the show is about the music performance, not necessarily the business hosting the group.
Musical Fr33dom currently is working on booking a show at Mad River in Manayunk, starting off the New Year.
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a fifth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu.